Giant pulp mill caught red-handed committing waste management violations

(foresthints.news) - Today (Feb 21) is the National Day of Garbage Concern in Indonesia. Ironically, however, bad news has emerged about the waste management carried out by PT OKI Pulp and Paper, a subsidiary of pulp giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia’s largest pulp mill. It turns out, unfortunately, that the company’s waste management practices fall well short of Indonesia’s legal standards.

The waste management violations committed by the OKI mill, which has only been operating since late September last year, are certainly very surprising considering APP's claim that the OKI mill is equipped with the most advanced environmental technology available today.

These violations were inadvertently discovered by the two Director Generals of the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry. The two top officials were heading back from peatland violation areas in the PT BAP concession after having symbolically removed newly-replanted acacia from 2015’s burned peatlands in this APP concession.

The ministry team immediately got out of their cars upon noticing piles of garbage which had been disposed of in peatlands located to the left, right as well as behind acacia trees in one of the PT BAP concession blocks.

“APP is a big name, but even its management of waste does not conform to legal standards. All this piled-up garbage has been thrown away in peatlands. This is a clear violation,” Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, Director of Oversight Complaints and Administrative Sanctions in Law Enforcement of the ministry, explained with indignance while at the waste disposal site (Feb 9).

Vivien went on to point out that such arbitrary disposal and management of waste at the OKI mill has polluted and damaged the surrounding environment, exacerbated by the fact that the stacks of garbage have been openly dumped in peatlands.

“Our minister was really shocked to see the ground-based evidence showing these masses of garbage from the OKI mill and immediately ordered administrative sanctions to be imposed,” Vivien told foresthints.news at her office (Feb 20).

The following photos depict the waste management violations committed by PT BAP and the OKI mill.

With respect to the waste management violations perpetrated by the OKI mill, Vivien continued, government-imposed administrative sanctions will be issued very shortly, including a demand that all the garbage in the area be removed and in the future any such waste be discarded in compliance with legal standards.

The sanctions, she added, would also encompass the restoration of the peatlands in which this waste has been disposed of.

“These sanctions will force the OKI mill and PT BAP to comply with the proper legal standards for managing waste,” Vivien asserted.

Changing bad practices

Vivien elaborated further, describing how the enforcement of these sanctions by the ministry will change bad practices when it comes to waste management, causing PT OKI Pulp and Paper to face up to its legal responsibilities in the operation of its mill.

“We shouldn’t get too carried away when we see that even in managing its waste, the OKI mill has proven itself unable to meet the required legal standards. There is some really urgent homework for APP to do here,” she cautioned.

The following photos also illustrate that the government-imposed sanctions to be issued by the ministry are perfectly reasonable to serve as an incentive for the OKI mill to manage its piles of waste in line with legal standards.

Vivien argued that the OKI mill should actually embrace the ministry’s move to impose sanctions and use them as a source of change, rather than shirk from its waste management responsibilities.

“How can they hope to become a world class company if the OKI mill is still associated with waste management violations. APP should in fact be appreciative of the ministry’s actions, not the other way around,” she reasoned in conclusion.